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November 26, 2014

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Online poker back: Legal site launches today in Las Vegas

Image

Ron Sylvester

A screen shot of the new Ultimate Poker game being launched on Facebook Friday, June 22, 2012, by Las Vegas company Fertitta Interactive as seen demonstrated on Tuesday, June 19, 2012.

Updated Tuesday, April 30, 2013 | 9:23 a.m.

A Las Vegas-based social gambling company says it will launch the first legal, real-money poker website in the United States.

Ultimate Gaming will only accept wagers from players in Nevada for now, but the site likely represents the shape of things to come for gamblers across the country.

Never fully legal, Internet poker has been banned in the United States since 2011.

More recently, the federal government softened its stance on Internet betting and three states — New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada — have legalized some form of online wagering.

With Tuesday's launch, Nevada wins the race to bring Texas Hold `em back to the Internet.

Ultimate Gaming executives say they hope to prove online poker can be done well, and encourage other states to tap into the market.

Nevada Gaming Control Board Chairman A. G. Burnett said the company, a subsidiary of Station Casinos, was approved for a 30-day field trial.

“But for all intents and purposes, Nevada is now the first,” he said.

It is “a momentous day for the state and a testament not only to Ultimate and the board and (gaming) commission but also to the governor for getting a bill through so fast,” Burnett said, referring to the quick approval of a bill to allow Internet poker play in Nevada.

The Gaming Commission earlier this month approved Station Casinos to develop and operate its own Internet poker system. Other major casino companies have gained licenses to offer online poker within Nevada, but most are using other companies to develop software.

Company officials say its system is state of the art and will prevent anyone under 21 from playing, will be restricted to Nevada and will prevent out-of-state gambling.

Station Casinos is the first to win approval of its system.

At a Gaming Commission meeting, Thomas Breitling of Ultimate Gaming was upbeat about the future of Internet gambling. Some people estimate it to be a $100 million market, he said.

Sun reporter Cy Ryan and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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